TWRA says it’s prime time for bald eagle watching

HARDIN COUNTY, Tenn. — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says around 10 bald eagles call Hardin County home. But they say around this time of year, you can spot up to 20 in and around the Tennessee River.

“Generally, January to February is kind of peak season for the migration for eagles as they head south, and Pickwick, being one of the stop-over points, we’ll see anywhere from 20 to 50 eagles sometimes on the lake during this time,” Sgt. Ray Garton of the TWRA said.

WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Amanda Gerry took to Pickwick Lake to see if she could catch a glimpse of what has been our national symbol since 1782.

“They soar mainly. They don’t flap their wings very often, so that’s one good way to tell them from others, and of course the white head and white tail that they get at about five years of age,” Steve Tyndall said.

We learned the reason the bald eagle was on the endangered species list was because of pesticides that ran into the water, contaminating its main source of food — fish.

“And it was causing harm to the eggs, so when they sat on the eggs, a lot of the eggs wouldn’t hatch and actually break the shells on some of them,” Sgt. Garton said.

Garton says they have been removed from the endangered species list for about a decade.

“Years ago, you didn’t even see eagles around most of Middle Tennessee and this area at all, and they’ve made a great comeback,” Tyndall said.

Tyndall says it’s a treat being able to witness the rare bird in its natural habitat.

“We’ve been coming for many years,” Tyndall said. “They’ve got eggs now so they’re very active, and once you see them, you’re hooked.”

Even though bald eagles are no longer on the endangered species list, they are still protected under several federal and state laws. The TWRA says if anyone has any information on an eagle shooting or finds an injured eagle to contact them at 1-800-372-3928.

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